Wife

Seen or Significant?

Do we want to be SEEN and validated publicly or SIGNIFICANT, even if only anonymously?

Both, probably. I mean, who doesn't want to make a difference in this life while having people tell them along the way that they're doing an awesome job? Oh, and whoever "they" are - they can feel free to tell other people too!

I was sitting at LaGuardia Airport last week at my gate, worship filling my ears while reading my Bible, when an unlikely verse jumped out at me:

Matthew 26:18 NIV "He (Jesus) replied, Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'" 

A certain man.

No name, no fanfare, nothing about his apparent relationship or background with Jesus, yet extremely significant. He was named in history but didn't make a name for himself.  He was known by the Teacher, and that was enough.

This certain man's house was where the Lamb had His last supper to fulfill the Passover - death passing over life - the life we all need to truly live was within His blood and the final sacrifice about to take place, once and for all. This certain man's house was the place of communion before the crucifixion. Did this man know who Jesus really was? Was he a Pharisee, a teacher of the law that connected the dots and realized that "the Teacher" was the Messiah that they - Israel - had been waiting for? Had he & Jesus met on several occasions, so many times so that at the mention of "the Teacher", this "certain man" offered up His home to be the location for a significant moment on the road to the cross? 

What we do know is that at the mention of His name, this man opened the doors of his home. At the request of the Teacher, he didn't hold back. It also appears that he didn't push for his name to be written down somewhere so that history could remember him for his great hospitality during what seemed to be a covert mission, harboring a controversial figure in his household for one of the most significant meals of all time. This man was audacious and obedient. He made room for Jesus - literally.

So, am I making room for Jesus, or for myself?

I have gone through seasons of wanting to be seen, validated and known by the multitudes. I have wanted my ego stroked and my gifts validated. I have wanted to be seen with the cool kids (whoever they are) and the right crowd (again, whoever they are) to feel a sense of importance. I have had positions of authority and the things of this world that I thought made me a significant person taken from me. I have fallen off of my pedestal more times then I'd like to admit and have crawled back onto it like a moth to a flame, while gripping it for dear life, hoping that standing on it would make me feel better again - even if just for a fleeting moment. All of these things point to a deep longing in me to be seen, known and loved. These places in my heart can only be healed and validated by Jesus.

If the Teacher comes to me and asks me to open up my home and life for a significant purpose, would I do it? Or do I first need to post about it, be seen doing it and therefore negate the power of its beautiful, anonymous significance in all its ordinary glory? What if history were only to record a moment where "a certain woman" opened her home to the lost, disenfranchised, broken and hurting? Or where a "certain woman" loved her husband and children well? What if that's it? Or what if there is nothing at all? Am I content with NO historical mention of my life after I leave this earth? No St. Andi Andrew day for the public to remember my greatness? Am I okay with that? Some days, yes, but some days... no.

The truth is, deep down, the older I get, the more I simply want to be known intimately and loved unconditionally by the One. This means not always being seen or known by the multitudes. Can we be truly known and loved by the multitudes anyway? Spoiler alert - no. 

Are we content to be un-named in history, but still significant in it? There is so much peace that comes when we realize how deeply known and loved we are. Striving falls to the wayside and a holy satisfaction descends upon our hearts and lives. When I am truly known by the One, I can be used for significant moments and often unseen purposes because I trust His direction and plan for my life. What's so beautiful (and painful at times) is that in this life that is a long obedience in the same direction, my motives are constantly checked and purified along the way. 

So, let's take a moment and ask our hearts, "Do I want to be significant, even in anonymity, or do I want to be seen and validated publicly?"

"God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I'm walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways - the path that brings me back to you." - Psalm 139:23-24 The Passion Translation
Source: www.andiandrew.com

Marriage - It Hasn't Always Been This Good

Paul and I will be married for 14 years this July, and let me just say, Marriage hasn't always been this good, fun or rewarding.

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For years we waded through constant misunderstanding and frustration while often trying to communicate to one another the way we needed to be communicated to. In the last few years though, we've hit a stride that has brought about an incredible unity and deep intimacy but not without intentional investment and a commitment to more. We laugh more often, are in agreement more often, have great sex (yes, more often - and this is a miracle because of all the fun baggage we initially brought to the table), and in general have a richer marriage.

You may be saying, "Well, good for you!" when right now that's not your reality. Well, I'm not here to gloat, I'm here to come alongside you and give advice from a friend who's been through seasons where marriage hasn't always been fun, rewarding, deep or intimate. So I want to share some tips, this is by no means comprehensive but a few simple, tried and true things that we have implemented in our marriage and over the years has brought about great fruit.

1.) Be intentional

Nothing good comes from passivity, apathy or wishing the other person would make the first move. None of us ever set out to be apathetic or passive, but when disappointment comes time and time again, it's easy to give up without even thinking.

You make the first move. Plan a date that would communicate love to your spouse and even if it feels awkward or doesn't go well, decide to see it as a seed in the ground to be cultivated for the future. It's a step toward breaking down walls and creating lines for healthy communication.

2.) Be committed to personal wholeness

There is nothing like letting the Healer into the areas of brokenness and pain in your life to do what only He can do. Until you do, it will always be someone else's fault, and often times the first target for blame is your spouse because they are closest to you. 

I would recommend books like Heart Made Whole, The Story of Marriage, and Love After Marriage. None of these books are for the faint of heart, but for those that are committed to personal healing and wholeness that in turn, bring about new life in your marriage.

3.) Plan a vacation together every year

Let me just nail your excuses to the wall. We have 4 kids and we make sure that every year we get away whether it's for a weekend getaway or a trip to Europe. Paul had been pushing for it for years, and I finally gave in 4 years ago (letting go of mom guilt) and I'm so glad I did. These getaways have deeply changed our lives. 

Last year in Paris, we brought along the book Love After Marriage to read and had some pivotal breakthrough, simply by setting time aside to be together. We also had a blast exploring the city of love while eating our fill of french food. The cost is worth it (so put it in the budget), for you, your marriage, and your children. Our kids think it's awesome when "Momma and Daddy" go on trips together because they see parents who are committed to falling more in love.

Get started!

Marriage is like a fine wine that get's better with age in the hands of The Master Vintner. So get to it!

Inadequacy, Anxiety & Fear - Getting Honest

The first day of the New Year didn't start out the way I had hoped. On the other hand, New Years Eve was awesome: surrounded by my kiddos, good friends, no make-up, comfy clothes and watching the Disney Channel. But the first half of the first day of 2016, no bueno. Inadequate, anxious, and fearful... Those are the words and overwhelming feelings that marked January 1, 2016 for me. Not the sort of resolutions, nor words, one writes down to "walk in" for the year. Let's just say those thoughts, feelings and emotions were not in the plan for 2016, yet there they were, physically part of my being on day one.

I had just posted "Positioned for 2016" on New Years Eve and was writing my latest post "What are you waiting for?" when on the first day out of the gates of 2016, it all got tested.

Let's talk about inadequacy for a moment. It's often how I can feel when embarking on something new and it's simply an indicator of what's going on in my heart. Whenever I feel totally out of my depth, and unable to achieve, perform, or do what I am "supposed to do"(all yuck), I know I've stepped out of connection with God, and have started walked into striving and fear. He never asked us to perform for Him to prove our love, yet sometimes we act like He has.

On the way back from ringing in the new year at our friends' house in the Hampton's, I started having heart palpitations that literally took my breath away. What's annoying is that I've been having them for the last couple of months. (Don't worry, I'll get them checked out) Fear began to creep in because of the palpitations, paired with deep feelings of inadequacy for the year ahead. With several speaking engagements booked for the year, the pressure (I put on myself) to write my first book, the pressure I feel (and put on myself) to love and lead my children "better" (performance is a killer) than I already am, the pressure I feel (and put on myself) to build an even better marriage, as well as the pressure (once again, that I put on myself) to pastor a growing church with love, excellence and strength was stacking onto my shoulders in the form of completely overwhelming and unrealistic expectations. The pressure was causing me to crumble and my physical body was manifesting what was going on in my spirit.

With each heart palpitation, I literally started to picture myself dying (I know sooooo dramatic!). I started to picture the heart palpitations as heart disease and that I was going to have a heart attack and die young, maybe even in 2016. I started to picture my children orphaned and wondering who Paul would marry when I was gone. Whoa! How quickly we can go down scary, dangerous and negative roads... Or is it just me?

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Paul asked me what was wrong on the drive home just as the sun began to set. I poured out my deepest fear as he grabbed my hand and held it tightly. We put on worship and as one of my sons began to sing out beautifully behind us in the back seat, we both started to cry.

The truth is, for the last 6 months or so, I had started to feel my heart disconnect from feeling anything, which is really strange for me. I am a feeler to a hilt and always have been since I can remember. I actually used to think it was a weakness, but then I realized God thinks I'm pretty awesome and He made me this way. I feel everything to the depths of my being. I feel a room when I walk into it. I feel the mood and temperament of people when I encounter them. I feel joy and I feel pain in my depths. So when my feelings begin to shut down and numbness sets in, I know something’s wrong. I felt myself going into self preservation mode and not wanting to trust anyone anymore. I even unconsciously shut God out and surrounded my heart with my worries and inadequacies as a makeshift vault.

Later that evening after we got home, we dropped off our kiddos to be with our amazing life assistant/Mary Poppins (seriously, she is like Mary Poppins) for the evening. My husband Paul and I left for Manhattan to go out to dinner with two “heart of our heart” friends, Christa and Lucas Gifford. They had both come into the city at the outset of the year to invest into our worship team and then Christa kicked off the first Sunday of 2016 speaking across our Church Communities.

As we hung out, and made up for lost time, somehow our conversation led to a moment where I began to pour out my palpitating heart. I talked about my huge feelings of inadequacy for the year ahead. Luke and Christa were both squarely looking me in the eyes, and telling me that “I was enough” that “Jesus paid the price for me, and that I was worth the price.” They said this and a billion other things I'm still pondering in my heart. Things that have ruined "my plans" for the year (in a really good way).

The love in their eyes for me, without agenda was like looking into the eyes of Jesus. My husband squeezed my hand (lots of hand squeezing that day) and nodded with a big smile on his face in agreement and adoration for me right where I was. The love from these three people was almost too much to take, but I liked it and I received it. That "moment of honesty", even in the depths of my inadequacy is what caused a moment of truth and connection to happen. A moment of truth that I'm still marinating in.

Before 2015 had ended, I asked God what the word for our Church was for 2016. Instead I got two words, LOVE and CONNECTION (more on this in an upcoming article). You see, when we are all SEEN and KNOWN, and deeply LOVED even after we're fully seen and known - warts and all (which can be scary), then we have true CONNECTION. And God is all about connection, it's why Jesus came! To invade our hearts with His love and in turn connect us back to the heart of the Father.

Brunch with the Giffords
Brunch with the Giffords

So this weekend when Luke and Christa came and dropped love bomb after love bomb through countless meals and conversations, not to mention the investment and encounter they gave to our worship team Saturday night, and personally sitting on the front row hearing the same message three times over this last Sunday while getting totally wrecked each time, let's just say something started stirring in me. My heart is slowly thawing out. The numbness is leaving and I'm feeling like myself again. There is still work to be done, and you better believe I will do it because I'm so worth it, and so are you for that matter. You and I are worth His blood.

As a church we entered 21 days of fasting and prayer on Monday January 4th. On the first night of the fast, I laid my kiddos down and started an internal dialogue with God. I was pottering around the house getting insignificant things done, almost to avoid slowing down and processing more of what was going on inside of me.

I felt God ask me, "What are you afraid of?"

I really thought about it... "Am I afraid of what I'll find in my heart? No... I'm actually afraid I won't be able to find anything or even figure out what's going on and then I'll be stuck here in numbness. I'm afraid that this "feeler" has been disconnected too long. Yeah, that's it."

So what did I do?

I slowed down on purpose, stopped cleaning the house as a petty distraction, sat in the presence of God and listened to what He had to say to me. Not surprisingly, He had good things to say to me because He's a good father like that. Then, I sat down and wrote this blog to process a bit further. I needed to be honest with myself and I truly hope my honesty has somehow empowered you to be honest with yourself. Then I trusted a few people God has placed around me to talk things through in more detail than I would share publicly on a blog. We all need a few true friends who love you where you are, but won't leave you where you are. Lastly, I have put a couple things in action to continue on the road of sanctification and wholeness, because it's a life long journey. God wants your whole heart always, so continue to do what it takes through every season for Him to have all of it's real estate.

Remember, Responsibility is your ability to respond...

So how will you take responsibility for your heart and life this year? We've got to stop waiting for others to do it for us and respond to God love and goodness that is always available to us.

So stop for a moment and ask yourself a couple of questions. 

When you start to feel yourself disconnecting, slow yourself down long enough to ask why. Where are you self protecting and self preserving? Why are you isolating yourself? What pain has crept in that you have tried to shut off so you don't have to feel it? What lie are you possibly believing? Are you even aware that you're connected or disconnected?

Stop, ponder, journal, listen... What do you hear?

I just know God so deeply desires for us to receive His love to the depths of our being, and out of us being loved right where we are, by the lover of our souls, we can once again find ourselves connected back to Him and His heart. He has never left us. We may have drifted, grown dull or numb of heart, but it's okay. He's got you and He is the greatest heart physician there is, so consider putting your heart back into His hands.

Now to get practical:

Christa speaking at our Downtown Community
Christa speaking at our Downtown Community

After you get honest with yourself about where you're at just like I had to on the first day of the year, why don't you consider having a listen to the podcast from this past weekend by Christa Black-Giffordhere - "Love Yourself"  - based out of  Matthew 22:38-39. Listen as many times as you need to, so you can marinate in it.

Think about pre-ordering Christa's book - "Heart Made Whole" (P.S. She doesn't even know I'm writing this article and has not asked me to do this. She's a friend and I believe in her and what's on her life). Invest in the healing of pain you may find in your heart to "turn it into one of your greatest strengths."

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

Loved people love people and make the love of God known...

I just know it's going to be a great year even though I wasn't so sure it would be on January 1st. My hope is that you will be able to say the same. Oh how our God loves to turn things around in a moment if we'll just go on the journey with Him and get honest with ourselves.

xoxo

Andi

Behind The Curated Instagram Feed - Real Life

So it's a big life, and sometimes the highlight reel on my Instagram feed can make it all look glamorous or just plain easy. It's not. It's big, it's messy, it's an adventure, and it's beautiful. Our family lives a calculated and intentional life, yet at the same time we're all full of flexibility for those moments/seasons where just about anything can happen. With every new turn of the corner, we stretch, change, and move things around according to the needs of our kids, marriage, family, church and so on. I decided to write this article after I hung out with my good friend (Chris Jury - love you girl!) in Australia after preaching at SWB with Leigh Ramsey the pastor of Citipointe as well as with Sean and Lynda Stanton down in Canberra. I also got to visit to my brother and his family in Sydney which was so much fun. Chris and I got talking (at the playground with our kids nearly necking themselves several times) about how looking from the outside in, it can sometimes seem like its a super easy, cushy life to live. None of our lives are, but I thought I'd take you behind the scenes of my day to day to show you a bit how we do it as a family. If I didn't cover something you're still curious about, comment and I'll see what I can do to answer your questions.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Whatever I put on here just remember, life is seasonal for all of us so there is absolutely no way we can really  "do it all" at the same time and stay sane. Don't buy into that lie, because when you do, you set yourself up for failure. Begin to look at all the wonderful things you are doing now and place value on it! Those gorgeous children, that job that is building character in you, the friends that you keep running alongside that can feel like a drain at times, that marriage that needs some work... Seasons come and go and after a beautifully lived life you'll be able to look back over the years and say, "Hey, I did it all!" because you didn't give up!

How I do it "all" - demystified:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Things we don't Instagram:- As I kick this off, let's be honest - there is so much we don't Instagram or post on social media. As I was talking to one of our Brooklyn Pastors, Kristen Tarsiuk, we laughed about all the things we NEVER post... Like that unibrow, our kids having a tantrum - in public, arguments with our husband, that church service that failed and no one showed up to, that meal we burnt, the ring around our bathtub (that we still bathe our kids in without wiping it down). Usually we post our perfect cake, our children painting a picture just like Picasso, or a bikini shot with our kids in the frame making sure everyone knows that we lost that baby weight. Yeah, you probably lost a few followers that day - did I just write that? Yes, yes I did. I've personally never posted a bikini shot (nobody needs to see that - I personally don't want people picturing me in a bikini as I preach) and my stomach has been stretched to kingdom come - 4 times (like I said, nobody needs to see that) - but each to their own. But I'm sure I've posted other things that have made people want to throw their phone and say "Oh yay! Good for you!" laden with heavy sarcasm, and for those days - I'm sorry.

(Clears throat) So moving on... How I do it all behind the curated Instagram feed:

Values: You've got to live from your value system, or life will choose for you. Make sure you know what they are and that they're in order, or you will sacrifice and pay the price for the wrong things. Usually unintentionally but nonetheless it will leave you frustrated and lacking grace for your season.

Paul and I often say "Our first ministry is to our family" and it comes out of our value system. There have been times when our lives didn't line up with that value (ouch!) and we took the rebuke from heaven and made changes. My husband and I don't want to build our "ministry" while we sacrifice our children in the process. They are our ministry! If their lives fall apart because of our choices, then we have to answer for that. I realize that they have a free will, and we don't control that will, but we will do our best to "raise them up in the way they should go so they don't depart from it" in every season of life. By the way, the word ministry means "to meet a need" - and as their parents, our children's primary needs are to be met by us.

So here's a shout out to all the stay at home moms and dads that don't feel appreciated! THANK YOU for raising kids that will change the world. You are my heros!

Now look, that's just one of our families values out of many that I've used as an illustration, and your values may not be my values, but get before God and put them in order. This will help you count the cost with every season and cause you to pay the right price. None of our lives will look the same, but we have to be true to each of our individual callings and purpose. We answer to our Father at the end of our lives for how we have cultivated what He's given us. Then, when the pressure comes to cave or compromise, we can't because we know we're building for the long haul with our values in mind and a knowing that opportunity will always come knocking.

Not every opportunity is your God opportunity.

My mom and dad: So after all that, lets just start with the fact that my mom and dad live upstairs in the same brownstone as we do, albeit a different apartment - we do life together. My parents truly are wonderful GRANDparents to my children and they feel called to come alongside Paul and I as we build the church together. They are also on staff overseeing our pastoral care, but if Paul and I ever should travel at the same time, it's my mom and dad that are home with my babies. They raise them just as we raise them and my children adore Nonni and Poppy. Whenever we do go away together and they ask, "who is staying with us" (as if they answer ever changes) and we tell them, "It's Nonni and Poppy!" They cheer and scream and get so pumped - every time.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

I understand that this is not a reality for everyone, and that we have extremely blessed circumstances,  but this wasn't always the case. I lived in Australia for 10 years without my mom and dad and was a stay at home mom for a season with my 3 children under the age of 3. It hasn't always been like this and to be honest I wouldn't travel, work, nor build the church at the capacity that I do without them. So in this season, this is really working, and with the next season that God brings we will re-evaluate once again.

Life Assistant: Our life assistant is another me at home! I have multiplied my capacity by training a wonderful woman to help run our household just like I would if I was home 24/7. It's a sacrifice for us financially and for me as a woman and mom emotionally, but with the right person (which we SO have) it brings peace and efficiency to the household.

After a long day's work I come home to the laundry done, beds fixed, a tidy house, bathed kids and a cooked meal so I can sit around the table and focus on what matters most - my kids and my husband. We talk, laugh and have family dinner which is what I love and crave in life. I am so grateful for our life assistant who has truly transformed (and organized) our lives at home.

Executive Assistant: Paul and I have an awesome woman who organizes our work life and calendar and I don't know how we'd do it without her! She helps lift the burden of admin (and a million other things) so I can focus on people, study, message prep and writing. She is amazing!

Home Days and Work Days: I only work in the office Tuesday-Thursday so I can be home with my kids Monday and Friday. I want to stay in touch with the dirty dishes, laundry, organizing, school drop offs and picks ups, general kid chaos and all things home.

Sam sleeping on our billionth plane
Sam sleeping on our billionth plane

Frequent Flyer points: Please don't get the idea that we have millions in some offshore account so we can do all this traveling - we have a lot frequent flyer points. Travel is one of our values and I realize it may not be on of yours. Because it is a value of ours, we find creative ways to do it and make it work and we save money to travel.  We love making memories together and bonding with each other as a family and travel is one way we do that.

Calendar Planning: Not sexy, but 100% necessary. My husband and I often sit down to plan the calendar with our values in mind.

Since our kids are our first priority, we plan the calendar around school season, school breaks, times when we know their emotions may run high or they may need us more for various different reasons, times where they'll need their momma more then their dad, or times when dad is great to hold the fort down while momma is away.

We also plan in time away without the kids. Paul and I want to fall more and more in love as each year passes and we need time together to do that. If the kids feel sad about us leaving, we simply ask them this question, "Do you want mommy and daddy to fall more in love?" Hello! The answer is always yes and then they are excited to see us leave. We want to pass on the desire for a healthy loving marriage to our kids and prioritizing each other does that for them.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We do life with our kids: This isn't always easy, but we like to take them with us on the journey no matter the cost (emotionally, physically, spiritually... you get it.) Sometimes they fall asleep on the floor at the thai food resturant after you've preached your heart out because you don't want them to go back to the hotel without you so you can have one more cuddle. It's worth it - totally not convenient and I love it all.

Endless packing and unpacking: A side effect of travel that I DO NOT love. No one can pack for me or my kids because it's all up in my head. You know that inventory list that no one else can access or do right even if you write it down? Yeah that one. And I admit, it's a little bit control freakish of me, but it's a huge part of travel that is so not glamorous! Gaaaaah!

Battles:Fear is real and so is LOVE. But that battles you face when you say YES to God in any way shape or form are no joke. Be ready and know your stance - you win. We fight from a place of victory, not  defeat. So keep your armor on and get your fight on.

Keep your heart pure: Entitlement will kill you. At times, our generation can be a "give it to me because God showed me a vision, I'm gifted to the hilt, and now is my time because I said so" generation. When we act like that, we're lacking the gratitude and humility it takes to SERVE and LOVE every generation alive on earth today which is why we're here. We are here for others - period. The first and foremost "others" I am here for are my husband and my children, and if that's out of whack, then it all falls apart. This goes back to the values piece. If you're goal in life is travel the world and preach, then you've missed it. Serve God, whatever that looks like in your season and do it with joy. That is the prize.

We serve at His pleasure... Not our own.

Wherever you are now, do your journey well. Fight the good fights that are right there in front of you. Moms! Raise those babies and be the greatest momma this earth has seen - even though no one may ever say thank you. We're raising them to be demon torturing, Kingdom releasing, Love overflowing, model citizens of this earth to transform it for Jesus - THEY ARE YOUR CALLING.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Count the cost: Giving everything for God will cost you no matter your sphere of influence, so don't be surprised when there is a price tag to the life you are called to live. The truth is, you still have a free will to count the cost and decide if you will pay it or not.

When you go to a store and buy a new shirt, before you purchase it, usually you would have looked at the cost, the style of the shirt and weighed up whether you're willing to pay for it or not. Once you do pay it, there are generally two responses - joy at having the new shirt, or buyers remorse because you didn't count the cost appropriately according to what you had in the bank to pay.

When it comes to the call of God it's the same. There is a price and a cost to stepping into new levels. There is also a cost to remaining in the same place. But we have to constantly be counting the cost and checking our hearts. Once you have counted it, weighed it, and prayed about it - make your decision and move forward without looking back and don't complain about how much it cost you! In every season of life, continue to ask God for the plan to execute the assignment He's given you - stay close to Him. He will slather your life with grace to live in what He has called you to.

"Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost." Proverbs 20:25 NLT

Keep getting punched in the face:Continual first hand revelation is necessary to overflow in this race we are all called to thrive in. Second hand revelation comes from others revelation (i.e. podcasts, messages, books, etc.) and is powerful, but there is nothing like being in the presence of God and letting Him hit you with the truth in love. It keeps you humble, on your face and in the right place for God to literally take the stage of your life because you're not interested in being on it! I serve at His pleasure therefore I need to know Him and what He wants for and from me.

Have your 3 or 4:I need prayer warriors in my life that have my back, my front, and my sides... And I've got theirs! I have 3 or 4 women in my life that I can call upon to pray in every season and I do the same for them. On occasion, I will call these women together and we get on our faces and pray... We are at war and every single one of our assignments matters - your assignment on earth matters, so take yourself seriously.

At the end of our lives we will stand before God and He will ask us what we've done with what we've been given. I don't have another shot at this life and I'm not wasting any time. 

Well, that's all for now... I hope you feel encouraged, empowered and helped in some way shape or form. Now go and run your race and do it with everything you have!

Warning: This picture does not represent real life.

Warning: This picture does not represent real life.

Although, how nice would it be to get your hair and make up done every day?!?!

These pictures however, do.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Chubby baby and ugly selfie faces. Life is too short for beautiful selfies.

andiandrew.co
andiandrew.co

Wrestling at bed time that starts with laughter and often ends in tears. You know what I mean.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Airplane pics with no make up, a sweaty beautiful jet lagged baby and new wrinkles around my mouth.

Over the years, I've had so many people ask me; "How do you do it all?" That whole four kids thing, healthy marriage, growing and flourishing church, leading in life, juggling like a freaking clown. Yeah that whole thing.

Well, the simple answer is... I don't.

I've been called "supermom" often, but really, I'm just a smart mom. I don't actually wear knee high red boots, have a lasso on my hip, and wear the super hero outfit everyday under my cloths. Although that would be fun.

I used to buy into the lie that that you can do it all (in the same season at the same time)! And with that statement came extreme pressure that I put on myself. I lived under that pressure for so long until I got shingles (for the second time) after my 4th child was born and I realized something had to give. And if you're not aware, shingles come out when you are stressed to the max. Boo! My stress manifested itself in my body, and I needed to pay attention. Paul and I had a big talk and made some major shifts in our lives and continue to do so as needed.

So I'm going to tell you the truth about how I (we) do what we do, because I don't do it by myself. There is an army that has gathered, and from the outside sometimes it looks like "I can do it all!!!" But I'm not alone.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

A releasing husband 

I married the right guy. Biggest and BEST decision I made. He doesn't see me as infieror, but as a partner in crime, eh hem, I mean good. We are equal but very different and compliment each other well like a fine wine pairing. I married a man who loves to see the dreams God has put in my heart come true, as I do in his life. He is truly my best friend.

He also LOVES and ADORES our kids and doesn't see it as a secondary option to stay home with them if I am traveling and speaking somewhere. He is the head of our house, leads us, and covers us with strength and valor in every season. He is a man I will follow anywhere.

We love running together!

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Kids that are called

Don't think for a second that I would ever sacrifice my children on the alter of "my calling". They ARE my calling. God put these children in my womb, and they are called to our families redemptive purpose on the earth. It's a together thing. Our family has a collective calling, and Paul and I pay attention to ebb and flow that come with each season. Sometimes my kids need more of my time in a certain season, and I need to listen to what they're really saying. I need to listen to God when the season changes, and then make adjustment accordingly. It will change year by year, but if I am truly a woman, wife, mom, daughter, friend, and leader led by Holy Spirit... I will be obedient and make appropriate changes as they're needed.

Family

I know, I have it good. My parents literally live upstairs in the same apartment building as Paul and I live. And contrary to popular culture, my parents and Paul don't just get along, they love each other. We are a family unit that thrives living near one other. My kids run upstairs all the time and bust into Nonny and Poppy's house uninvited but always welcome. My parents give us the margin we need sometimes when the stretch is on. It's the way family was meant to function, and the way a healthy church family does too.

Another added bonus are Paul's extremely wonderful parents! They sacrificed it all in their 60's and moved from Australia to help us build the church... and they LOVE our kids as if they were there own. They have a place in Connecticut that provides a "nature retreat" from the city. Its so fun to go to Grandma and Grandpop's house!

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Vanessa aka "Sessa" aka "Consuelo" aka "Nessa"

This woman is without appropriate adjectives. She swept into our lives right after my bout of shingles and has changed our family forever. We call her a "life assistant" because to call her a nanny downgrades what she actually does alongside us. She is called to our family in this season and does it brilliantly. What does a life assistant do you ask? Laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, helping with the kids, planning activities, pick ups and drop offs when I can't be there... the list goes on. Hiring Vanessa was one of the most pivotal moves we made for our family and a huge reliever of undue stress.

A house cleaner

Only recently have we added this glorious bonus! Every two weeks or once a month, we get our house cleaned according to our budget. We make sacrifices in other areas, so that we can do a deep clean in the house and I can invest my energies in other more important things. A clean house really matters to me because it brings order to "my space" in a life that is constantly moving. The house clean releases me in particular, to not worry about things that would take up my time on saturdays or mondays when I just want to rest, relax and be with my family.

Friends

I have good friends.

My friends tell me the truth. My friends love me even when I am not perfect... And that is everyday people. My friends are iron that sharpen me. My friends believe in me and cheer me on in my race without comparison because that belief in them is reciprocated. We all allow each other to be who we are and it's a diverse group of friends. I couldn't do this life without them.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

An incredible Team and Church

I can't believe the people that God has put in our Church. I really can't. We wondered if we were smoking something when we planted this church because it was honestly just 9 of us around a Central Park bench when it all began and that included our kids!!! Now there are hundreds of people that call Libertyhome, a staff and team that are anointed leaders in their own right, and we've only just begun.

God...

No brainer. I am friends with, and my life is completely submitted to my maker and Father. I am deeply loved and in love, and out of that place, I live to please my God - the one who rescued me. Daily I choose to lean into Him... This is probably the greatest key to living in my lane.

 And we'll end on this picture... Just because it's awesome. I love my boys.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Series: Control Freak - Article Six

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE SIX: WALKING IN YOUR NEWFOUND FREEDOM

I feel like as I write these "Control Freak" articles, that I am talking about someone else because of the deep changes the continue to take place in my life.

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Remember, this is one step at a time... You’ll look back one day as  you embark upon your journey to freedom and be amazed at what God has done as you consciously align yourself with your new revelation. Once the moment of freedom takes place, you have a spiritual stewardship responsibility to run in the revelation that’s been given. Otherwise, you’ve opened a door to allow “the roaring lion to devour” again. The word says that “the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) After you get free, you have to get good at saying “You may not.”

1 Peter 5:8 AMP

8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

While we were in Africa, we got to watch a lion feeding take place.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310983 [/embed]

It was extraordinary and frightening all at the same time. Let’s just say I am glad there was a fence between us and the lions. After we watched the feeding take place, our group went over to another pride of lions that hadn’t been fed yet to get some pictures. They're truly majestic animals. We had our 6 year old son Jesse with us who was by far the smallest person in the group. We started to notice that one lion in particular (the dominate male) would not take his eyes off of Jesse. Wherever Jesse walked, this lion went. And when Jesse would crouch down, he would fiercly roar and try to get through the fence to devour him. We did a little experiment and had Jesse run up and down the fence just to see if the the lion would follow him. And sure enough, the lion ran wherever Jesse ran. This lion was hungry and was pining to get through the fence to feast on my son.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310820 [/embed]

As a mother, my hackles went up just watching all of this. I went into protection mode. Even though the gate was there, I was ready to step in front of my son and be dinner for this lion. He was literally going to have to step over my dead, devoured body before he could touch my son.

Revelation 12:12b NIV says: "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury,because he knows that his time is short."

The devil especially hates free people. So be on your watch, and tell "the roaring lion" where to go.

What I understood as I watched this lion in Africa try to get to my son, is that he went after who he thought was the most vulnerable. When you step into your new found freedom in any area of your life, there is a level of vulnerability that you walk in and it’s just wisdom to be aware of this. You’ve just opened you’re heart up to God, to let Him do major surgery. That’s the moment that the enemy loves to begin to ‘prowl around’ to seek if he may devour you and steal the seed of freedom that has been planted in your heart. When you don't allow it to be stolen, it will grow and bear great fruit. For that to happen, above all else you’ve got to guard and protect what God has done within you.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

Just imagine how God feels when the enemy prowls around you... He get’s angry! He is so passionate about you. The enemy literally has to ‘step over’ God’s one and only son Jesus dead and resurrected body to get to you. Just read Psalm 18 to see just how fierce God is to protect you when the enemy tries to come after you.

So how do you protect the seed of newfound freedom within your heart? You’ve got to let LOVE in.

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and control is rooted in fear. If this is true (and it is), then you'll need love as the salve to heal every part of a recovering control freak… You’ve got to step into it. Once a moment of deliverance or freedom takes place, it’s not surprising to begin to sense fear trying to knock on the door of your heart… Fear that things will spiral out of control, so you have to take over again. Fear that you won’t be protected or covered, so you go back to your old ways and control situations with anger to self-protect. Fear that life won’t turn out how you dreamed or imagined, so you’ll work hard without God’s grace to earn and control every circumstance in your life.

Anyone tired from just reading that? I know I am.

Instead, we have to CHOOSE to REMAIN in His love. It's a daily, sometimes moment by moment choice. Remember in the last article when I talked about CHOOSING to cultivate The Fruit of The Spirit instead of choosing to control ? I said...

"I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear"

Just like love is a choice sometimes in marriage (It's more than a feeling), it's a conscious choice to remain in the Fathers love. To believe that we have the capacity to love... Whether that's to love others, or to love ourselves because He first loved us. You have to allow a great exchange to take place. To hand the fear over, and receive the unending love that covers all, and causes you to overcome.

When you know you're loved, no lion can devour you... The 'accuser' cannot touch you.

John 15:9-11 NIV

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

1 John 4:18-19 NIV 

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.

So let love in, and step into the newfound freedom that is yours to fully walk in all the days of your life...

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Series: Control Freak - Article Five

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE FIVE: Getting Free...

 andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

To get free, I needed to go back to where it all began. Where did this door open for the ‘control freak’ to come in and operate in my life? I asked the Holy Spirit to take me on a journey, and to be honest, I was a tad freaked out... but at the same time buckled in and ready to go.

One thing I knew for sure... no one is born a control freak. One becomes a control freak.

Somewhere, something happened to me that caused me to think that controlling my environment kept me safe. Somewhere fear crept in, I was the target, and control was the fruit of my fears. And after it crept in, it came at me in different ways, compiling the amount of control I would exert to feel safe.

I ignored it for years, but I know where the door was opened. It crept in in the form of abuse at the age of 3. And after that, it just kept rolling in. If I couldn’t control what happened to me, then I would control my immediate environment in order to feel safe. As I grew up, it came in the form of broken relationships where I engaged my whole trust in someone that I thought would be my savior. This, in turn, crippled me from putting my whole trust in God. So if a person or a situation would let me down, fail, or hurt me, there were new reasons to lash out and control my personal world.

 finleycountry

finleycountry

Somewhere along the journey, a subconscious lie came in and I told myself, “I can do a better job than God. I can take control of my life.”

For me, the number one way control manifested itself in my life was anger. And a close (very close) second to anger was a compulsion to keep my house, and the humans that lived in it, in perfect military order.

The funny/not so funny thing is is that control isn't even in the nature of God. I was a little bit bummed when I realized it wasn’t a fruit of the Spirit since I was so good at it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that old song that goes “God is in control”, but the truth is, He left you and I with one big thing that still baffles me: choice. He has given us the beautiful and oh-so-annoying gift of free will. And why is it annoying, you ask? Because it leaves absolutely zero room for a victim mentality. You can’t blame anyone when you have the free will to forgive, let go, and live in freedom. He doesn’t even force you into relationship with Him; it’s your choice to let God in or not. You were created to be in relationship with Him, but until you acknowledge that... He stands at the door and knocks.

 fambridge

fambridge

Maybe it seems strange, but I got free when I realized that even the person who abused me at the age of 3 had the gift of free will from God too. They had a choice to treat me with love, or mistreat and hurt me. Unfortunately, that person chose that latter, which affected my life greatly until I realized I needed to engage my free will to forgive them. Forgiveness let me out of my cage of torment and control (Matt 18:34-35). This is the most powerful weapon you have in attaining freedom from control. Forgiveness is what Christianity hinges on. Our engagement of forgiveness (receiving and giving it) are foundational and fundamental to living free in any area of our lives. From there on out, I had to make choices that aligned with my newfound freedom. The responsibility for my freedom was and is on me to execute with the knowledge and revelation I now walk in.

After the chains fell off, the seemingly obvious things all started to hit me:

  • I can’t control my husband.
  • I can’t control my kids.
  • I can’t control other people's decisions.
  • I can’t even control what people think or say about me (I can make choices to have a good reputation but I can’t control others opinions no matter how hard I try)

And the more I try to control those things, the more I feel out of control and lack any semblance of peace.

BUT, here is what IS in my power to choose and cultivate in my life:

  • I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear.
  • I choose to have JOY and LAUGH at the days to come no matter what season I’m in or what circumstance I face.
  • I choose to pursue PEACE in the midst of the good, bad, ugly and crazy hectic times in my household. The Prince of Peace came, and Peace is my inheritance.
  • I choose PATIENCE when all I want to do is respond in anger and control my environment.
  • I choose KINDNESS when my first reaction is vengeance, anger, hatred or frustration (Yes, even this pastor can be given to strong and unhealthy emotions).
  • I choose to focus on the GOODNESS in my life, and not blow out of proportion the things that have gone or are going wrong.
  • I choose FAITHFULNESS on the days I want to throw in the towel and move to a deserted island all alone where no one can talk to me.
  • I choose to cultivate GENTLENESS when my initial reaction may be brash or harsh. It is in my power to choose.
  • I choose SELF CONTROL, because it’s in my power to do so. I am not God’s little puppet. I am His friend. And friends don’t control one another.

Galatians 5:22, baby! I can CHOOSE to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Along this journey, I've realized that God is a lot better at doing His job than I am... And I realize that people have a free will to hurt me, but I have a free will to get free.

Have you ever heard the quote:“Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react"?

To walk in forgiveness, I want to encourage you to read Matthew 18:21-35. It's the parable of the unmerciful servant. It shows how God so willingly and easily forgives us, and expects us to do the same to those that owe us a debt they can never pay. We owe God a debt that we can never pay Him, yet through salvation and forgiveness of our sins He releases us of our debts freely. As you read this, you'll notice that we're the ones that are actually in prison until we forgive. Forgiveness releases you, and sets you free.

Forgiveness brings recovery and healing to an ailing control freak. Forgiveness and repentance change everything. It’s the key to our freedom.

So now what???

Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where control has had an open door to enter your life. It will probably look different than my journey, but when you’re ready, God will reveal it to you.

Step 2: If it’s necessary, choose, as an act of your will, to forgive those who have hurt you and owe you a debt they cannot pay. Repent of your sins in holding onto that debt and ask God to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Read Matthew 18:21-35 for revelation on forgiveness and repentance and the power it has to set you free.

Step 3: Willingly cultivate the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22in your life, and begin to make choices that align with your freedom.

Below is a prayer you can use to engage forgiveness as an act of your free will. It’s the canceling of a debt, a heavenly transaction. Even if you don’t feel like anything happened, believe that a heavenly exchange took place. Don’t let the enemy steal your seed of freedom.

 jessefreedom

jessefreedom

LORD, TODAY AS AN ACT OF MY WILL I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE _____________________  FOR HURTING ME. SPECIFICALLY I FORGIVE THEM FOR _____________________. I CHOOSE TO RELEASE THEM FROM THEIR SIN AGAINST ME AND I CANCEL THE DEBT THEY OWE ME AND I RELEASE THEM INTO YOUR HANDS. I RELEASE THEM FROM ANY JUDGEMENT OR CRITICISM THAT I HAVE HELD AGAINST THEM AND I TRUST YOU TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION AS YOU SEE FIT.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS, AND BY THE POWER OF HIS BLOOD, I ASK THAT HE SEAL THIS HEAVENLY TRANSACTION. AND BY THE POWER OF JESUS' BLOOD, I CANCEL SATAN’S AUTHORITY OVER ME IN THIS SITUATION AND IN THIS MEMORY.

GOD, I ASK THAT YOU FORGIVE ME FOR STANDING IN YOUR PLACE AND TRYING TO EXECUTE JUSTICE. I THANK YOU THAT YOU FORGIVE ME LIBERALLY AND COMPLETELY, AND I CHOOSE TO EXERCISE THE SAME FORGIVENESS TO THOSE THAT OWE ME A DEBT THEY CANNOT PAY.

Series: Control Freak - Article One

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAK

ARTICLE ONE: Hello, my name is Andi Andrew and I am a recovering control freak.

But seriously...

 sam

sam

I have 4 kids and live in New York City (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, to be exact; 4 stops from Manhattan) and there was a day a few months ago where I was 4 days late. Yes, 4 days late for my lady friend that I get to see every 30 days or so. I nearly had a heart attack. I am NEVER late AND I ALREADY have

4 KIDS IN NYC WHILST PIONEERING A NEW CHURCH. YES I AM YELLING!

I started to think of all the ways we could do this,  manage this, or make it work. I sat there and thought of how we had spoken of maybe adopting in the future (maybe) so what is 5 if it’s a possibility in the future anyway??? But really, I was just keeping my impending panic attack at bay.

All I could hear was Adele singing over me “Rolling In The Deep” and I went and got a paper bag to breathe into. A few days passed, and sure enough, I WASN’T pregnant. The alarm was well and truly false, but it made me consider the journey I have been on for the last 11 months to give up the reins of control in my life. The journey I am still on.

Ever since I had my blue-eyed, blonde-haired, big-headed, gorgeous, joyful, inquisitive, baby boy Samuel in September of 2012, it all changed. Why, you ask? Because like I said earlier, he was my 4th child. He is by far the easiest of my babies... slept through the night at 3 months, loves having his siblings all up in his business, and even when he is crying, he tries to smile because the kid is just happy.

 Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 2.48.21 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 2.48.21 PM

Having 4 children and living in New York, you get looked at like either an alien or “the nanny” of the children you are toting around on the subway, because surely you wouldn’t do that on purpose??? Well, we did do it on purpose and we’re glad we did, challenges and all.

So why did this beautiful baby boy push me straight into the deep end? Because, simply put, I have control issues. When I had Sam, the “control freak” that has always been inside of me became freakishly obvious and reared its ugly head when he was born. I was trying to control everything in my sight including the people that I loved because baby #4 kicked the crazy meter over in our household... I couldn’t keep a thing clean for more than 5 minutes! It didn’t help that I had a bout of the shingles (yes, the thing that elderly people get, OR highly stressed people with a strand of the chicken pox virus lying dormant in their system like me... and this was not the first time I have had the shingles, which added insult to injury!). I started to realize that if I kept on this pathway, I was going to consistently & deeply hurt those that I loved in ways that I never really wanted to. I wanted to be consistent at loving them... not hurting them. It was all pointing to deeper issues I had never fully dealt with.

Something had to give...

I used to pride myself in the fact that I was able to control my circumstances, to keep a clean house anally clean. I would never miss an appointment or double book myself. I used to make dinners and think through menus for our family. I mean, the menus were nothing special, and taco night made an appearance every week, but at least it happened weekly. I used to relish grocery shopping and organizing drawers and cupboards. I used to compulsively organize my children's toys as I put them away. The order made me feel safe.

Something had to give... something did. My beautiful baby boy’s birth pushed me over the edge into the greatest change in my life.

I was no longer in control... so who was?